Creating an effective workflow will go a long way in improving your business efficiency. In an ideal world, you would create an automated workflow for nearly any process or task without worrying about it again.
Unfortunately, the reality is quite different. A workflow improves the success of your processes, but you have to customize the workflow to deliver the expected success.
We have some dos and don'ts to enable you to create an effective workflow. Let’s discuss them below.
What is a Workflow, and Why is it Important?
A workflow is a series of tasks that complete a particular process. A business process is a set of repetitive activities that accomplish a business goal.
Workflows are the vital components of your business process management. They compromise the tasks you must accomplish to ensure your business runs smoothly.
Your business will enjoy these benefits with a well-streamlined workflow:
More standardized processes – workflows make it possible for you to create and implement standard operating procedures in your business
It streamlines your tasks - it offers you more insight into your process, hence enabling you to eliminate bottlenecks to achieve maximum efficiency.
Improved business communications – a major hindrance to effective communication in your workplace is the inefficient process. Workflows allow you to eliminate these barriers to allow members to share information in real time.
Improved accountability - workflows make expectations clear and eliminate possible productivity barriers.
Increased transparency - workflows make it easier for you to oversee the tasks being performed by your staff at every project stage.
The Dos of Creating an Effective Workflow
Here are some top suggestions for creating an effective workflow.
Do Set Clear Goals and Deadlines
Workflows should contribute to achieving your business's strategic goals. Make sure you outline the goals when designing a workflow. Ensure you document the following aspects of your workflow:
The impact you want your workflow to have on the process
How much time each process should take
The targeted end product of the workflow
The part of the business process you want the workflow to help complete
Note: each aspect should help you develop SMART goals for your workflow. Ensure the goals you set align with the overall project goals.
On the other hand, ensure the tasks in your workflow include realistic deadlines. A workflow should enable your employees to maintain focus and momentum.
Do Involve Your Team
Your team will be most affected by the changes the workflows bring into your business. If they don't like the changes, you can expect resistance.
But you can avoid all this by bringing your employees on board from the beginning. Let your employees be active in identifying those processes that require improvement.
Your team is also the best at brainstorming objectives and timelines for your workflow tasks. Their participation will make it easier to map out tasks assigned to each member.
Moreover, your team members will be the ones executing the workflow consistently. Therefore, actively involving them during your workflow design will minimize the learning curve during implementation.
Your workflows should improve efficiency in your work processes. Workflow automation enables you to achieve this objective.
Workflow automation is the process of streamlining and automating a series of repeatable tasks within a software you use. Workflow automation optimizes your business processes by replacing manual tasks with software that performs all or part of the tasks in a process.
Automated workflows will perform tasks such as sending emails, triggering drip campaigns, scheduling tasks, and setting up reminders without your intervention.
You don't even have to sweat about which workflows to automate. Start by automating workflows in business processes with existing automation tools. For example, you can automate your invoice management workflows using a QuickBooks Online tool.
Through automation, you will have more streamlined processes with minimal errors and process times, saving your overall operation costs.
Do Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
SOPs increase the success of your workflows by offering your staff directions on what to do. It is much easier to streamline your workflows when you have defined SOPs.
Standard operating procedures are the guidelines that enable you to break routine tasks into standardized step-by-step instructions. Your SOPs are the guidelines your employees will use to know what to do in specific situations.
When put together with workflows, the SOPs fill the communication gap between you and your employees when performing project tasks. The SOPs inform employees how to perform specific tasks in a given workflow. Therefore, your employees will be more productive when performing their respective duties.
Do Incorporate Breaks and Rest
You can never achieve any efficiency in your business processes when your employees burn out. Tired people find concentrating hard and cannot be trusted to deliver consistent results.
It would be best to prioritize your employees' self-care and well-being. It's your secret to having sustained productivity and consistency from your employees.
Self-care begins with small yet significant acts like introducing regular workflow breaks. The breaks can range from 15-60 minutes, depending on the time and purpose of the break. For example, a lunch break could take 60 minutes to allow employees to eat and rest for about 15 minutes.
The Don'ts of Creating an Effective Workflow
Here are the things to avoid if you plan to create an effective workflow.
Don't Neglect Communication
Effective communication is a key ingredient in any collaborative process. Communication creates transparency in workflows and business processes.
Business communication ensures that every member understands their roles and responsibilities in a workflow. You can create a collaborative workplace ecosystem where people share real-time information.
Imagine a client project with a tight deadline, and your staff depends on each other for its completion. In such a scenario, real-time information, documents, and files sharing ensures every task is performed efficiently and promptly.
Therefore, even as you think about automating your workflows, ensure you select tools that improve communication efficiency. For example, ClickUp is an all-in-one project management tool with better communication efficiency.
Note: communication in a workflow isn't necessarily limited to the chats or emails you share with your staff members. It extends to the documentation and SOPs you create to implement your workflows.
Don't Micromanage Your Staff
Workflows are supposed to help increase the efficiency of your processes. They decrease your employees' dependence on management to get things done.
Therefore, it makes no sense to want to micromanage your employees as they perform their tasks. Micromanaging your staff hinders their creativity and productivity, hence creating more inefficiencies in your processes.
Involving your employees while designing your workflows minimizes the need to micromanage them. Your staff already know your workflows and understand their respective tasks and responsibilities.
Moreover, the SOPs you created further eliminate your need to be regularly involved. Your employees will have a guideline to implement the workflows and achieve the set objectives.
Don't Ignore Feedback
Workflows are like a just-in-time (JIT) system. There is always room for continuous improvement.
The feedback you get from various stakeholders will help you improve your workflows. But you also have to be open to criticism as part of the feedback you receive from these stakeholders. Ask your staff for feedback about your workflows because they interact with your systems and processes daily.
On the other hand, the feedback you get from your customers will help you analyze your workflow inefficiencies and institute corrective measures. It also allows you to deal with the real issues affecting your workflows rather than the symptoms.
For example, a customer may complain about the project completion times. Such feedback may trigger the need to improve the level of workflow automation.
Join the FREE Royal Webinar about Designing an Efficient Workflow
All along, we have insisted on having efficient business processes as one of the ultimate goals of creating workflows. Now, it’s time to show you how to design that efficient workflow you crave for. Follow us on Instagram and watch out for an announcement about the upcoming webinar date.